We Can Cling to This – The LORD is Good.

Rembrandt’s,  The Raising of Lazarus , 1630.

Rembrandt’s, The Raising of Lazarus, 1630.

Read Psalm 145:9-19

The LORD is good to all, and has compassion on all he has made.

All he has made will give thanks to the LORD. Your loyal followers will praise you. They will proclaim the splendor of your kingdom; they will tell about your power, so that mankind might acknowledge your mighty acts, and the majestic splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.

The LORD supports all who fall, and lifts up all who are bent over. Everything looks to you in anticipation, and you provide them with food on a regular basis. You open your hand, and fill every living thing with the food they desire. The LORD is just in all his actions, and exhibits love in all he does. The LORD is near all who cry out to him, all who cry out to him sincerely. He satisfies the desire of his loyal followers; he hears their cry for help and delivers them.

God is good. Christians throughout the centuries have held on to this belief. Yet it is one with which I, along with many others, have wrestled. I have been in places in life where I wanted to do away with the belief. Yet in spite of the pain, questions, and chaos of life, I now cling to this belief confidently. It is an essential idea, not just because it is true, but because it shapes the way we will interpret our life and our interaction with God. 

But how can we know this? We can know God is good and that God cares for us because we exist. 

The Christian faith understands that God created all things from God's self. The belief that God created ex nihilo (from nothing), is misleading. The idea rightfully communicates the reality that there is nothing God uses to create other than God's self. However, it leads us away from the remarkable truth that all things created were created from God's self.

God's creative activity was not an act of divine compulsion. God did not need creation, nor was God required to create. Instead, creation was a divine decision, a willful act motivated by something fundamental to who God is. God is love, and at the core of the Creator is love (for more on this go here). This means the motivation for all of creation was love. So Love itself decided to create in love. Therefore all created things have been made in love. So you and I are not cosmic accidents, but the willful result of Love's divine choice.

Love's divine act of creation tells us we exist out of love and are loved. We can also conclude that we were made for love. Thus whenever we are not fully experiencing this love, we rightly acknowledge that we, or the world, or both are broken. Something in us or around us has fractured the love that we exist to experience. 

These creatures made from Love's hand would be at the same time altogether outside of, and yet profoundly tied to God's self. Because of this, rather than thinking of the Creator as the Architect or the Manufacturer, it may be more helpful to think of God as our Mother. The Scriptures employ this language often to describe God. God is the caring Mother of Hosea 11, the nursing Mother of Isaiah 49, and the comforting Mother of Isaiah 66. Jesus Himself refers to Himself as a Mother Hen in both Matt 23 and Luke 15.* God is not the distant Creator, though our clockmaker arguments for creation unintentionally insinuate this very picture. Anytime we reduce the Creator to craftsman, we sever the Creator from the heart behind the creative act, love. Much like a mother, God births something from God's self that is not itself God. While a distinct creature, God is intimately tied to this creation by the very love that wrought it. God, as our Mother, cannot and will not leave us nor abandon us to death and chaos.

This reality comes to the forefront when Jesus confronts the death of Lazarus. Jesus' allowance of Lazarus' death should in no way be confused with His approval of Lazarus' death. God does not leave us to succumb to the brokenness of the cosmos.

Instead, as creatures crafted in and for love, we can rightly believe that God ultimately desires our good. Circumstances that suggest otherwise can accurately be identified as evil and against God's will. The Christian vocabulary for this is sin. When in a departure of God's will someone or something brings anything other than good into God's created world, it has sinned. If anything apart from God is evil, God cannot be evil or the author of evil. Instead, God is love and the author of love. So any evil that overcomes us was not caused by God. Thus evil's existence allows us to rightly conclude that there are powers in the world, contrary to the nature of God in their character and acting in opposition to the God of love to undo creation. 

Though evil continues to ravage what God loves, God has not left us. God came in the person of Jesus and showed us that darkness and death do not have the final say. Jesus also promises us that one day, He will return and establish peace and flourishing to all of creation. Love will again reign one day. Jesus' promise is our hope. To trust Jesus means we believe that He can and will do what He has promised us. Death will once and for all die.

The Christian life does not promise us freedom from suffering, evil, and death. It instead offers hope that a day will come when all things are made whole. In the interim, we get Jesus. We inherit Jesus' promise; we enjoy His love; all while gaining His indwelling Spirit. And in this interim, we cling to Him in faith, asking Him to carry us through, knowing that He weeps with us, believing that though this will not take away the pain, it will somehow help us through.

So believe me when I say, God has not left us. Jesus promises to be with us and has given us each other. Please know your doubts, hurts, and questions are not unacceptable to God or the People of God. Sharing these can be profoundly helpful in recognizing that we are not alone. While we may not be able to offer answers or solutions, we can provide faith, hope, and love for one another as we carry our burdens together.

Let's live Into This Today

  1. Has anything ever caused you to doubt God's existence, goodness, or concern for you? Is this doubt something you are ashamed of or think is unacceptable at church or to God? If you haven't yet, I want to encourage you to share your burden with God in prayer and with those in your HUB group.

  2. Doubting God's goodness can come for lots of reasons. Has anything given you a reason to trust that God's goodness? Meditate on these things, cling to them.

  3. How does talking about God as our Mother transform your perception of God and God's disposition for you?

  4. Trust God enough to take this to Him. Whether in anger or pain, God longs for the broken, hurting people to come to Him. Ask God to help you cling to the fact that God loves you and will one day redeem all things.

*God as Mother in the Scriptures can be found in Hosea 11:3-4, 13:8; Deuteronomy 32:11-12, 18; Isaiah 42:14; 49:15; 66:13; Psalm 131:2; Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34.

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